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Course content

What is the Master of Bioethics all about?

The Master of Bioethics is a one year advanced master's programme which is coordinated by the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law (CBMER) at KU Leuven.

Lectures, small-group discussions, case studies, and research activities characterise this programme, which is capped with a publishable research paper. Then, return to your workplace with a better understanding of today's ethical issues. Or perhaps your future is on an institutional review board, a clinical ethics committee, or within a government agency, regulatory body, or medical association. Then again, perhaps you'll take up a teaching or research career. Or you may pursue a career as a clinical ethicist at a hospital or health care facility.


The programme (60 ECTS) consists of a series of core bioethics courses, a research component and a series of electives.

Truncus communis of Core Bioethics Courses (22 ECTS)

  • Ethics and Law in Biomedical Research
  • Public Health Ethics and Ethics in Health Policy
  • Ethical Issues in End-of-life Care
  • The Foundations of Bioethics and Principles of Clinical Ethics
  • Human Genetics, Ethics and Policy
  • Law and Healthcare

A Research component (23 ECTS): a Seminar Interdisciplinary Research in Bioethics (5 ECTS) and a Master’s thesis Research Project (18 ECTS)

Elective specialisation courses (15 ECTS): In function of their background, expertise and research project, students can select from a number of courses that are offered at KU Leuven from the fields of Medicine, Theology, Philosophy, Social Sciences, Anthropology and Psychology. These elective courses allow for the development of more personal trajectories.


The program aims at dealing with the most important traditions in bioethics together with major contemporary movements, as well as the conceptual, methodological and practical issues in different areas of bioethics. The programme wants to pay specifically attention to European traditions in philosophy, theology and ethics.

Further the program supports the students in developing academic and professional competences needed to conduct research in bioethics independently. They are encouraged to participate in the scientific debate in the domain of bioethics. It intends to support students in critically analysing the literature, writing scientific articles and submitting papers to (inter)national conferences and journals. The program also intends to prepare the students to integrate their theoretical knowledge with requisite attitudes and skills, in order to be able to apply these in a professional and clinical context. The students will be able to participate in clinical ethics committees (CECs) and research ethics committees (RECs), to deal autonomously with complex ethical problems in the field of health care and/or research, to analyse these problems and to reflect on them, and to discuss ethical issues within a cross-cultural context.

Finally the program stimulates the students to develop a critical attitude towards ethical problems and the scientific bioethical literature. It stimulates student to adapt a life-long learning attitude that is essential when one is professionally active in health care. Students are stimulated to develop openness towards different positions and teaches them to work in a multidisciplinary way. The program intends to increase moral sensibility and to develop a continuous awareness for ethical issues in clinical practice.

Career Options

Graduates are presented with a diverse spectrum of professional possibilities.

At least one in three of the students thas has graduated from the programme have gone on to work on a research project or undertake a doctoral degree.

Many graduates return to their workplace with a better understanding of the ethical issues involved there. Some serve on institutional review boards or clinical ethics committees or find positions at government agencies, regulatory bodies and medical associations.

Others are employed as professors at universities or researchers at independent research institutes. Some graduates pursue careers as clinical ethicists at hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Visit the Bioethics MSc page on the KU Leuven website for more details!





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